With that in mind, I’ve picked three playlists for you to jam along to today, and no matter what you’re into, you’ve got to appreciate what Memphis offers in terms of music history. All three are web-based, so you can access them from work — just in case.
Sun Records Road Trip, Songza
On Songza, playlists are mostly curated by staff musicologists — and Memphis is surely a hotspot for music history. For this playlist, they invite listeners to “hit the Southern backroads” and turn up at 706 Union Avenue, “where Sam Phillips’ Sun Records birthed their pioneering mix of R&B and hillbilly music.” The playlist with nothing but the classics features greats like Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, as well as some lesser-known Sun alumni like Coy “Hot Shot” Love and Jimmy Isle.
Here’s another one that’s so perfect for getting down it might be hard to stay still in your office chair. Stax Records fans can jam out with these awesome classics, like “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave. The website says Stax “cranked out some of the hardest-hitting deep soul anywhere.” Too true, especially when you’ve got Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, and The Bar-Kays blasting through your earbuds.
Intro to Memphis Rap, Google Music
If you’re into something a bit edgier, curator Andrew Nosnitsky says this playlist is not for the faint of heart, with more than 30 head-bobbing songs that will make you feel like a boss — straight from the mouths of Memphis rap giants like Three 6 Mafia, 8Ball & MJG, and Yo Gotti. Songs range from the classic, rough-edged “Chickenhead” by Project Pat all the way to the more recent, Memphis-repping “Krispy” by Kia Shine. Nosnitsky has focused on the ’90s growth of M-Town rap, calling the music of the era “lo-fi, aggressive, and sometimes outright Satanic.” Oh yeah.
There’s always more to Memphis music history than just hip hop, blues, Stax, and Sun Records, but seeing our city in the wild online feels good; they’re appreciative just like we are.